Sunday, June 8, 2008

Introduction to the San Gabriel River

The San Gabriel River of Texas is actually two distinct streams. West of Georgetown, it runs clear, clean, and shallow over limestone cobble and bedrock of the Edwards Plateau—a classic spring-fed Hill Country stream. Flowing through canyons and hills and often flanked by dramatic cliffs, the river drops 750 feet in elevation over a short 50 miles from its origin in eastern Burnet County to Georgetown. But east of Georgetown the San Gabriel’s personality shifts dramatically. Here, as the river cuts through the deep, waxy soils of the Blackland Prairie, the San Gabriel slows and meanders for 65 miles, forming deep green pools that alternate with shallow riffles.

Arising from springs to the east and north of Burnet, the San Gabriel River flows eastward across Burnet, Williamson, and Milam counties for 120 miles before merging with the Little River, which empties into the Brazos River.

The San Gabriel includes three major branches, the North, South, and Middle forks, and two large tributaries, Berry Creek to the north and Brushy Creek to the south. The largest and longest fork, the North San Gabriel begins 12 miles north of the town Burnet; the South San Gabriel arises five miles east of Burnet and flows east to join the North branch in San Gabriel Park of Georgetown. The shorter Middle San Gabriel arises five miles east of Liberty Hill in Williamson County, joining the North San Gabriel one mile east of I35. Two major dams block the waters of the San Gabriel and form large reservoirs: Lake Georgetown on the North fork and Lake Granger further east.
Sources: Handbook of Texas Online; Scarbrough, Linda. 2005. Road, River, and Ol’ Boy Politics: A Texas County’s Path from Farm to Supersuburb. Texas State Historical Society, Austin, Texas.

1 comment:

texasflyfisher said...

Hi Ben,

You had posed a question to me about the decline in fishing along the North San Gabriel due to lower flows coming from the Georgetown dam. I am polling some of the folks I know. There are a group of fly fishers in Georgetown you may also want to contact (or even present at one of their meetings) regarding your question. You can go to to get their email addresses.